Vale set to mark Merchant Navy Day - The Evesham Observer

Vale set to mark Merchant Navy Day

Evesham Editorial 30th Aug, 2017   0

THE VALE will be marking Merchant Navy Day with the raising of the Red Ensign flag at Wychavon District Council’s headquarters.

A flag raising commemoration will be taking place at the Civic Centre in Pershore on Friday to join those around the UK in remembering all of the Merchant Navy sailors from Great Britain’s proud naval past, and also to show support for today’s British seafarers.

At the ceremony Wychavon’s Chairman, Coun Liz Eyre, will give a short reading of thanks from HRH The Earl of Wessex before raising the Red Ensign, which is the recognised flag of the British Merchant Navy.

Although Wychavon is raising the flag today, Sunday is officially Merchant Navy Day and has been held every year on September 3 since the year 2000.

September 3 was chosen as on that date in 1939, the first day of the Second World War, SS Athenia became the first ship to be torpedoed and sunk with the loss of 128 passengers and crew.

In the First and Second World Wars, the merchant fleets suffered heavy losses from German U-boat attacks. Nearly eight million tons were lost to U-boats in the First World War, and 14,661 merchant seafarers were killed.

In the Second World War, German U-boats sank 2,828 Allied ships, amounting to nearly 14.7 million tons. The UK alone suffered the loss of 11.7 million tons and 32,000 merchant seafarers were killed – a higher casualty ratio than any branch of the Armed Forces.

The Red Ensign has been the recognised flag of the British Merchant Navy since 1854.

It will be raised in hundreds of villages, towns and cities across the UK to show support for the Merchant Navy, as well as to help highlight the work Seafarers UK, the charity that supports the maritime community.

Coun Liz Eyre, said: “As an island nation we have always depended on merchant seafarers to defend our shores and import vital food and fuel.

“We’re pleased to be supporting the ‘Fly the Red Ensign for Merchant Navy Day’ in honour of the brave merchant seafarers who have made the ultimate sacrifice throughout our history, but particularly during the two World Wars.”

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